Jets try to keep dominating division, clash with Predators

League: NHL

Posted on: 09 Nov, 2023 at 02:27 AM

Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

A pair of Central Division rivals will meet for the first time this season Thursday night when the host Winnipeg Jets face the Nashville Predators.

Winnipeg has made the most of its divisional matchups this season, as the Jets are undefeated against Central foes. Winnipeg earned a 5-3 victory over Arizona Saturday and has a pair of wins against the St. Louis Blues, the most recent being a 5-2 decision Tuesday.

"We talk about it a lot, how important our division games are and staying focused, making sure they get our A-game every time we're playing against our division," Jets assistant coach Brad Lauer said. "Another good test for us coming up."

Lauer, as well as associate coach Scott Arniel, have been putting in extra work, as head coach Rick Bowness is still on leave tending to his wife after she suffered a seizure late last month.

Beyond the wins against teams in their division, the Jets have been playing well in five-on-five situations.

Entering NHL play Wednesday, Winnipeg ranked 10th in five-on-five goals with 26 on the season. While that has been a positive, special teams has been the biggest thing dragging the Jets down. Winnipeg holds the 20th-ranked power play at 17.8 percent and the 29th-ranked penalty kill at 70 percent.

The Jets believe brighter days are ahead for their special teams unit. Winnipeg scored a pair of power-play goals against St. Louis Tuesday, just the second time this season the Jets have tallied multiple goals in a game with the man advantage.

"You could tell it was right there," Winnipeg forward Kyle Connor said about his team's power play against the Blues. "You've got to create your own luck out there. ... It just happened to hit."

While the Jets seem to be finding their stride, the Predators are still trying to define consistency.

Good efforts, like a 5-2 win over Edmonton Saturday, have been followed by stunning defeats, like the third-period collapse against the Flames that led to a 4-2 loss Tuesday for Nashville.

"I think of all of our games this year, this is the first game that I walked away really disappointed in our group," Predators coach Andrew Brunette said after the loss to Calgary. "I thought it was very flat. It wasn't anywhere near as good as we can play."

Because of that inconsistency, Nashville has only been able to string together back-to-back wins once this season.
"I don't think we were able to get enough possession and establish our forecheck and create turnovers," Predators forward Kiefer Sherwood said, referring to what held his club back offensively in Calgary. "For our team, it's a lot more taxing when you're playing defense, and we played more of the game in the D-zone and we didn't get pucks out."

Jets forward Gabriel Vilardi remains out with a knee injury, while lower-body injuries have Nashville center Cody Glass and defenseman Luke Schenn out. Predators blue-liner Ryan McDonagh is day-to-day, as he also deals with a lower-body injury.

--Field Level Media